Now that the economy is doing better, trade shows are becoming more popular in terms of attendance and the number of exhibitors. After all building and construction people can only stay away from Las Vegas for so long before they start to suffer withdrawals.
Even though trade shows are becoming more popular, I still see too many companies going for the wrong reasons. Because …
1. We always exhibit at the show.
2. Our competitors are always there.
3. What will people think if we aren’t at the show?
4. We will lose our favored seniority position
With this type of reasoning, it’s no wonder CEOs don’t trust you or what you do with their money.
Trade shows are a large part of most budgets. You should ask yourself, every year: Is there something this money could be better spent on? If you didn’t attend, what really would happen? Trade shows make you commit as soon as the last show is over. You need to think ahead about cancelling for the next year.
Four other things wrong with trade shows:
1. Most companies have a few big customers who make up the largest portion of their business. You should already have strong relationships with these customers. You should be making regular sales calls on them, which makes a trade show unnecessary.
2. National shows are usually not buying shows. Increasing money spent on local and regional or distributor shows may actually result in more sales. At local shows, you support your local distributor, train their sales people and actually sell some stuff.
3. Even national shows can tend to be regional in nature. Smaller to medium-sized customers are less willing to take time off work and travel across the country for a show, so you miss them anyway.
4. A trade show should be about increasing sales, primarily to new customers. At most trade shows, a company’s booth is full of existing customers and few customers who don’t buy from that company already.
If you want to make the best use of your marketing budget, challenge the assumption that you automatically need to blow a bunch of money at trade shows. Maybe the money could be better spent in newer areas such as social media, especially if your goal is to sell more stuff.
If you have thought about it and decided you still want to go to a trade show, then make sure you get the most return for your investment. This other post tells you how.
Thanks for the following comments. I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions.
Great message !
National Accounts Manager
“Just had this exact conversation this week. It is impossible to determine ROI from tradeshows as a building product manufacturer that sells through traditional distribution channels. You’re exhibiting to network and for brand exposure/recognition, but how much is that worth? There are still a few shows where we see value in attending, but we have realized that there are certainly more effective and efficient ways to spend our marketing dollars.”
Sagiper North America
“Your assessments are pretty accurate at least based on my more recent experiences at trade shows. In short, if it makes good sense for us to attend particular shows from projected profitability and revenue generation standpoints, we go. If not, we don’t. We no longer automatically sign up to attend trade events without first doing careful analyses of the likelihood and probability of achieving success and meeting specific objectives by exhibiting at such shows. Like many companies, we do not have bottomless resources with which to work with, and we take pains in striving to make sure such resources are channeled in areas that will work to our greatest advantage.”
Independent Retail at U.S. Green Fiber